Monday, September 26, 2016

Carol Cunningham and Oliver Hayward: Disrupting Market Research Through Innovation

The Next Gen Market Research Award recognizes companies and individuals that have demonstrated outstanding leadership as change agents and made significant contributions to harnessing disruptive innovation to drive research industry progress. In 2015, NGMR teamed up with Women in Research (WIRe) to encourage their members to submit nominations. What happened was unprecedented - not only were there a huge number of submissions, but over 58% of them ended up being from women. Two winners of this highly competitive race were interviewed by The Research Insighter - you can see the full interview here. Each gives their strategy and motivation for doing what they do every day. Not only is their work completely innovative, it is also apparent that they do what they do out of a passion for their customers and even for the greater good.

Carol Cunningham VP of Consumer Insights and Business Strategy, BET

Carol Cunningham, Vice President of Consumer Insights and Business Strategy for Black Entertainment Television (BET) won the prestigious Individual Achievement Award. Cunningham's work exemplifies "insight" as she applies a combination of sophisticated data and analytics skills, over 20 years of practical experience and sociological expertise about our current society to her strategies.

Carol Cunningham: "I think a lot of what I am doing at BET is about stealth innovation. Really focusing on being a change agent. I am probably one of the unique people who sits at the intersection between big data and also insights, I do a little bit of both.

My primary goal is to make sure that I give dimension to the African American consumer, change perceptions and sometimes stereotypes. We do it through a variety of different things, we have a lot of quantitative research studies that we do. Everything is to find out and probe and figure out who these consumers are, why they’re important, why they’re impactful, for any business to embrace. At the end of it we’re really trying to help people understand them a little bit more intimately.”

When asked what the greatest challenge Cunningham had in her role, her answer was surprising. (It isn't bringing the right data together to tell the story which seems to be the number one problem most market researchers face.)

Carol Cunningham: "I think one of the biggest challenges we have is that we have to constantly go in and educate people about who this consumer segment is, what they represent, how they can actually keep your business in the black if you really focus on embracing them. A lot of what I end up doing is helping people see them beyond what they know. So we will do studies on the color of beauty because one of the things that we know is that African Americans really do have their fingers on the pulse of what’s hot, what’s next and what matters. And they really are cultural catalysts and we need to have people understand that more."

Oliver Hayward, partner at Global brand consulting agency Hall & Partners received the NGMR award for Innovative Research Deployment. If you haven't heard of Hayward's innovative work and you're a market researcher  - well you may have just had all your prayers answered. While it has become a highly valued skill set to be able to actually figure out what data to put together in this "new world" of market research, Hayward is a few steps ahead of the rest. What Hayward is developing is a way for you to not only not have to dive into hundreds of spreadsheets, but you don't even have to do the powerpoint anymore (which Hayward half-jokingly asserts no one reads anyway.) Here's Hayward to more articulately describe what The Hub will do for the market research industry.

Oliver Hayward: “I look after a platform called The Hub; it’s a digital tool for helping our clients and researchers. It helps our clients who are drowning in data. We believe there’s a lot of value to be gained from “small data” the data you already have within your organization. Our mission is to help our clients manage that data, spend less time chasing data and more time on extracting the valuable layer of insight.

I am excited about the notion of storytelling. A lot of tools do a very good job of helping people get to the story but don’t do a good job of helping them tell that story. Our main focus for next year is around journalism, helping people within the platform publish well written engaging short copy stories that can engage people across the business. We know in reality people don’t open big powerpoint reports, and one of the challenges our clients have is getting their stakeholders to look at the data, let alone use it." So basically what Hayward is developing is a complete report you can give to stakeholders that will both show and explain the market research data, in story form. You can keep an eye out for this to come to fruition here.

What these two innovators have shown is not only an expertise in their field, but a drive to push the limits of what market research is and can do for business.  Want to learn about more disruptors in market research? 2016 NGMR winners will be announced at TMRE this October!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Extinction or Revolution? How Market Research Can Excel in this New World

The Research Insighter caught up with David Boyle, the BBC's EVP of Insights at our last TMRE event, you can watch the video here. Their lively discussion addressed the seemingly insurmountable difficulties the market research industry is facing right now, and offered some pretty concrete solutions.

The Research Insighter: "At TMRE 2015 there were some pretty big words thrown around, revolution, extinction... what do you make of all this with regard to the state of the market research industry today?"

The market research industry is certainly dealing with some scary stuff right now.
David Boyle: "Some big scary words... I think there are some serious challenges (for market researchers) from a number of different directions: New data sources resulting from digital engagement competing for business leaders’ attention, and people are doing research themselves with new tools such as: Survey Monkey, Google forms, social media analytics and data. The core work you’ve been doing for years is being competed against with all these new supposedly insightful data sources. Everyone's talking about big data or data science, it’s the topic of investment and where the future lies. So that’s what’s getting managers’ attention. There are very real risks for market researchers and the market research community."

The Research Insighter: "How is this manifesting itself in your world at the BBC? Obviously media is the probably first and hardest hit by all of the disruptive technologies to date."

Step one to "overcoming the peril"? Ask the business question you are trying to solve for.
David Boyle: "I think the 1st step is to ask what the business question is that you are trying to solve for? This is key to overcoming the peril. Let’s get really clear. If you trying to monetize TV consumption, sure the Nielsen ratings are 'the currency'. If you are trying to understand the reach of a brand in broader terms, it is not the data you should be using, it’s only part of the puzzle. You have to define what you mean by 'brand engagement' and therefore which are the data sets you want. If you’re trying to understand interest in the show that is not monetized – who’s interested in the show but not watching it. We see piracy for example, in some countries, it’s a pretty clear signal of interest in the show. We don’t see that interest reflected in TV ratings. We have to find an alternate business model by which we get the show to those people in a monetized way. That demand is by definition not in the ratings. It depends on what business question you are trying to ask. Starting from a business question and saying ’what data is available to help me answer that question?’ ‘What’s the best data I should use?’ not ‘what data do I have handy?’ and then solving the business problem carefully.
The Research Insighter: "How has this surplus of information affected how you operate as a market researcher?"
David Boyle: "You need people with skills and time to pull together multiple data sources and tell a story across that data source. Piracy, research, social media engagement and TV ratings for example. In the old world, market researchers would have a product they worked on, maybe the brand tracker, that was their expertise. They’d report the brand tracker results with great pride and then they’d run the next brand tracker. It’s no longer the world we live in.

That person now has to also take into account consumption, unmonetized consumption, social media engagement. That person has to tell a rounded story about what’s going on with that brand. Telling a story data source by data source is no longer useful to us as a business. That’s a slightly different skill set. The question for market researchers is: do people who run brand trackers have the skills, permission, encouragement and time to do rounded storytelling instead of being product focused. My opinion is yes, but they’re not always given the permission or time."

Key things for the market researcher to be successful: Time and Permission

The Research Insighter: "Has your department adjusted to this change with relative ease or has it been painful?"
David Boyle: "I don’t think it’s been easy for anybody to adapt to, least of all me. The instinct is to pull out a relevant data source to answer a question but you’re only giving part of the answer, you probably don’t have all the data sources you need at your fingertips. If I am doing research I need to reach out to the measurement person and coordinate delivery of the right data, the financial person to tell if the revenues match, the social media analytics person to see what’s going on in that world...

Suddenly I need five or six people in the room before I can answer the question, and I probably need to have a discussion or debate to tease out the different stories coming from the different data sets. The coordination and teasing out the answer is really tough but it can be done, it must be done. Therein lies for me a big part of the reason why this jeopardy, this peril that market researchers face can be overcome. Market researchers by nature have the skills. Given permission, time and the confidence to say ‘I am not going to answer this with the brand tracker, I am going to gather the right people, and pull the right data together and tell you a more rounded story’. Market research can excel and excite people even in this new world." 
We're excited to say that David Boyle will be speaking at the 2016 The Market Research event, his talk is entitled: The Client Vendor Tug of War: How to Handle the Balance.
If you're interested in hearing more from Boyle and other technological innovators in the market research industry, don't miss the world's leading market research event TMRE happening in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida October 17-20. Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard - Tweet to us at @TMRE!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

From the Early Days of the Internet to Crowdsourcing, Market Research Innovator Olga Diamandis Shares Her Journey

The Research Insighter spoke with market research innovator Olga Patel Diamandis this spring, and Diamandis gave a fascinating personal historical perspective on how technology has changed market research since the 1990s. You can watch the entire video here.

Diamandis began their chat with an explanation of her background: “I’ve spent over 20 years in research and innovation. I started at Procter & Gamble where I received very classical training in research methodologies and I progressed into an insights and innovation role, that’s where I was at the end of my eleven years there. I moved to NestlĂ© to their strategic innovation unit to head up the insight function there. Most recently I was at Mars and then Mattell (she's now at Smuckers)."

The Research Insighter: “Taking stock of the research landscape today, the field and the industry are in the throes of some pretty dramatic changes. Where do you see the greatest challenges and opportunities? What are you watching and paying attention to?"
Olga Patel Diamandis: “The market research industry is going through tremendous changes right now; a number of them driven by the exponential growth in various technologies: social media, digital, computer programming, machine learning, artificial intelligence, crowdsourcing, you name it. This is something that’s very new to all the researchers who are more used to traditional techniques. So I think the biggest challenge for us as researchers is to adapt to that and take the opportunities that all these challenges are bringing."

The Research Insighter: "Can you give an example of a technological or methodological innovation or novel approach that you put to work for you?"
Olga Patel Diamandas: "Information technology is driving a lot of these changes. At Mattel - we built a crowdsourcing platform, (creating) that was not possible 5 years ago. We had a community of loyal consumers participate in it and provide their ideas and comments to us.  

Crowdsourcing as agile, immediate and reliable market research
We ran several challenges where we asked them to help us develop a brand - 'Little People' line, looking for our next characters. (Crowdsourcing) took much less time than it would have in a traditional market research approach. The results came from our very involved consumers, and we knew right away that they would resonate."

Unless you adapt you are not going to move forward
The Research Insighter: "How was this experience for someone who was classically trained in market research?"
Olga Patel Diamandis: "I learned to adapt over my career. I realize that unless you adapt you are not going to move forward. I am fascinated by all the changes and opportunities that technologies are bringing. And our consumers are changing too because of these technologies. That are affecting their lives.

Market researchers are curious by nature
We researchers are curious by nature, we have to be, that’s how we derive those insights. When we talk about innovation, it’s important to understand that we’re not just talking about products and services. We’re talking about innovation in our research methods. We cannot do the same thing over and over and expect different results. We have to adapt as the industry adapts. "
The Research Insighter: "There’s a lot of resistance to change in quarters of research. What would you say to those in the market research industry who are skeptical or hesitant to adopt some of the new emerging areas that are quite outside our comfort zone, and ...a bit scary such as artificial intelligence?"

In the late 1990s, critics were quite skeptical about the internet in market research
Olga Patel Diamandis: "Going back to the late 1990s when the internet came to be... As market researchers we talked about how it would be impossible to run an online questionnaire, there’s so many things that could be wrong with it. You don’t know who the respondent is, you don’t know how robust the program or is if the results are same as pencil and paper or telephone. I remember we were at Procter & Gamble and we deliberated for three years whether the internet was something that could be used. We started to run mega survey studies in two ways, online and our old way.

The data did not match. People respond online in a much more truthful way, they are more themselves. We adapted, but it was not easy to change our attitude towards it. My advice is we have no choice we have to adapt, changes are coming and we can’t prevent them from happening."

We're excited to say that Olga Patel Diamandis will be speaking at The Market Research event, and on a very interesting topic: the future of food as it relates to dogs and humans.
If you're interested in hearing more from Diamandis and other technological innovators in the market research industry, don't miss the world's leading market research event TMRE happening in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida October 17-20. Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard - Tweet to us at @TMRE!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Using Neuroscience to Learn How Consumers Perceive Brands

Neuroscience has been tapped to help brands understand consumer purchasing decisions for several years now, with methods from healthcare and academia such as EEG and biometrics applied to study the motivations of consumers. Marketing insights company Nielsen, for example, even has a branch devoted to neuroscience called Consumer Neuroscience headed by Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Dr. Carl Marci. But what have market researchers actually learned from all these efforts that can help brands?

Our brains seek shortcuts that eliminate the need to think. Photo: Ryan McGuire

Some very interesting research results have come from a Baylor College of Medicine study. A team of neuroscientists presented 40 subjects with vignettes of actions taken by both humans and corporations to monitor brain scans of their responses. This research originally stemmed from the inquiries into the legal implication of “corporate personhood” and fact that the American legal system has extended the rights of individuals to corporations and held corporations, as a collective unit, liable. Funding for this work came from the “Initiative on Neuroscience and the Law”.

Our Brains Use Different Areas to Process People and Objects
The study went like this: The vignettes given to the participants showed actions that were positive and pro-social such as donating money, neutral such as purchasing office equipment, or anti-social such as law breaking. There was also a control of vignettes about inanimate objects such as fruit or an ironing board. Baylor College’s website reported: ”When participants made judgments about people, specific areas of the brain involved in social reasoning became active. In contrast, when participants reasoned about an object, activity in these areas was diminished.” 

The Human Brain Experiences Corporations as People
The study found that people essentially used similar parts of the brain to understand corporate and human behavior. This study which originally had to do with law has applications to how consumers relate to brands – if they’re using similar parts of the brain to understand corporate and individual human behavior, they’re essentially equating brands with people! You can read the entire paper “Are Corporations People Too?” written by Mark Plitt, Ricky R. Savjani and David M. Eagleman here.

Companies Need to Work on Reputation, Loyalty and Trust
This study gives some radical insight into how people view brands; one author of the study, David Eagleman, says it tells us that companies need to work on reputation, loyalty and trust. We’re excited to say that Eagleman, host of PBS’ The Brain and NYT best selling author will be at The Market Research event this October. Eagleman’s talk is called: “Emotion, Motivation, and Reputation: What Matters to the Mind of the Consumer

Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard - Tweet to us at @TMRE!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Artificial Intelligence: Is This The Future of Market Research and Consumer Insights?

We already know how artificial intelligence has been affecting marketing, with everyone from Netflix to Under Armor utilizing data to improve customer experience, but how exactly can market researchers hope to use AI? And apart from all those hip and trendy businesses using it that we hear about – are there really any implications for non-tech related companies?

Artificial intelligence indeed has implications for market researchers in every industry to predict shopper behaviors such as: what and how much customers will buy, what they will pay and how they will engage (customer retention) once they’ve purchased a company’s products. Roger Perowne wrote in ResearchLive this month: “(We need) Technology targeted at understanding how and why we make choices and decisions, not just navigating us to a shopping aisle.” Well that technology is here and it’s artificial intelligence. The beauty of AI is that it gives us so much more than purchase data from brick and mortar and online stores but can incorporate shopper intent, regional patterns, comparative data from other industries and more. Here are a few examples where AI is being used for consumer insights.

Improving Customer Engagement with AI
Insurer and finance company United Services Automobile Association (USAA) uses an AI product built by Intel’s Saffron that matches patterns of consumer behavior to predict how customers might contact them, and about what products they will have inquiries about. This allows USAA to plan customer service staffing as well as be more personalized in their communications – leading to cost savings for them and better experiences for their customers. 
AI's not just about science fiction and robots. Photo: Ryan McGuire

Predicting Consumer Demand with AI Sales Forecasting
Analyst Greg Maczka had this to say on Quora about the future of qualitative research and product development: “AI will have a much greater impact on actual, real life analysis which will eliminate the need to set up elaborate and unrealistic testing situations in the first place. And that'll be the future of market research.” The company easyJet is already in that future, with predictive analytics helping them plan flight destinations and times as well as the food and drink items they serve on their flights. Their Head of Data Science Alberto Ray-Villaverde spoke with Future Travel Experience early this year: “According to Villaverde, the difference between analytics and AI is that the former has been about diagnostic capability and looking backwards, whereas the latter is focused on predictive capability, which can help organisations better understand and plan for the future.”

Price optimization Using Machine Learning
Companies such as Vendo, Daisy Intelligence, Fractal Analytics and Blue Yonder have begun to apply artificial intelligence to pricing. What exactly does dynamic pricing software do? Here’s a description of what Blue Yonder’s software does: “monitor(s) internal (sales history, real-time demand) and external data (weather, public holidays, school holidays, competitor pricing) leading to the optimal price point for any product… continuously tests and measures the response to price changes by analyzing interactions between that price change and subsequent changes in demand.”

Airbnb began to use machine intelligence when they realized what a difficult time their customers – typically amateurs in such matters – were having figuring out how much to charge to rent their homes. Airbnb created their own in-house software tool which offers their customers a very unique form of dynamic pricing, offering them pricing tips based on changing market conditions as well as custom pricing based on the various characteristics of their listings. You can read the very interesting story of how they designed and tweaked their internal AI pricing software here.

So there you have it, artificial intelligence is no longer science fiction, and it’s not just something reserved for trendy Silicon Valley companies. AI is on a mission to clear out the error-prone focus groups and disjointed data to bring real-time, relevant insights to market researchers and marketers.

If you're interested in this and other technology innovations in the market research industry, don't miss the world's leading market research event TMRE happening in beautiful Boca Raton, Florida October 17-20. Got any comments on this blog? Make yourself heard - Tweet to us at @TMRE!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Whole Brain Thinking: The New Insights Mindset

By: Steve August

In the September 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review, there is a remarkable article titled “Building and Insights Engine.” Its three co-authors, Frank van den Driest of Kantar Vermeer, Stan Sthanunathan, and Keith Weed of Unilever, describe how the results of a research study with over 350 businesses and nearly 10,000 practitioners show that the highest performing companies put the customer at the center of their activities through an a dynamic insights and analytics function.

But what was even more fascinating, was how the the authors laid out a blueprint for the optimal characteristics of what they term an “insights engine.”  

Ten Characteristics of an Effective Insights Engine

According to the authors, the blueprint for an effective insights engine consists of ten characteristics: seven operational characteristics and three people characteristics. The seven operational characteristics are:

     Data synthesis (ability to connect disparate data)
     Integrated planning
     Forward looking orientation
     Affinity for action

The critical people characteristics as:
     Whole-brain mindset
     Business focus

It is easy to look to focus on the seven operational characteristics, but actually it is first of the three people characteristics that is especially important - as it underpins all of the other operational aspects. As the authors state, “Whole-brain thinking is at the core of the insights engine.”  

This is an extraordinarily important point. Historically, insights teams are organized with left-brain quant and analytics people working separately from the creative right-brain qualitative team members. However, the research showed that a differentiating attribute of the high performing organizations was their ability to integrated the two types of thinking: 71% for the high performing organizations versus 42% for the underperforming ones. In a sense, one of the key underpinnings of a successful organization is how well its people can draw on both right and left brain thinking. Or to put it another way, the degree in which an organization can have a whole-brain mindset can very well determine how successful a company will be.

These findings send an important message to the insights industry. So often quant and qual efforts work in parallel or in sequence, but not truly together. We often treat our analytical thinking and our creative and storytelling thinking as two separate efforts, when more than ever they need to be truly integrated. We need to be able to make connections between what we find in the voluminous amounts of data at our disposal and the first hand observations of the ground truth of people’s behaviors - and then collaborate with our stakeholders translate what we learn into compelling stories that drive action.

Van den Driest, Sthanunathan, Weed summed it up brilliantly at the close of their article:

Having troves of data is of little value in and of itself. What increasingly separates the winners from the losers is the ability to transform data into insights about consumers’ motivations and to turn those insights into strategy.”

The authors showed that a truly effective insights function is as much about how people think as is it about operational capacity. It is time for the insights industry to embrace whole-brain thinking.  

About the Author: Steve August is the CMO of FocusVision, the global leader in market research technology. A pioneer in online qualitative research, Steve created Revelation, the industry leading platform for mobile diaries, insight communities and bulletin boards. Apart from speaking and hosting an array of conferences, he is fascinated with design, technology and smart methodology—and how they can be fused to get to the heart of everyday moments that reveal people’s emotions and behaviors.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why You Should Revisit Your Shopper Journey (And How To Do It Right)

This post was originally published on Kelton Global’s blog.

Understanding the consumer journey has always been (and still is) a crucial piece to closing the gap between interest and purchase. But while fundamental needs haven’t changed, the customer journey is much more layered and multi-directional.

Today’s consumer doesn’t just follow one of a handful of discrete routes in their journey to purchasing a good or service. With the Internet at their fingertips, shoppers now bounce around the traditionally linear path to purchase–easily jumping from an in-store touchpoint to a digital platform in the snap of a finger, gathering information from multiple sources throughout the process.
Consumers can now leverage the wisdom of the crowd to educate themselves before ever setting foot in a store.

Keep these two major shifts in mind when deciding on research strategy for your next customer engagement journey project:

Consumers are wildly more empowered in their relationship with brands.

We don’t just live in the age of information. We live in the age of informational guidance, with unprecedented access to (and considerable depths of) knowledge about almost anything there is to know about. This is especially true when it comes to products and brands. Consumers can now leverage the wisdom of the crowd to educate themselves before ever setting foot in a store. This presents a huge opportunity for brands to garner awareness among consumers shopping for their products. At the same time, this also means exponentially more touchpoints to maintain and track, as well as heightened expectations of consistent brand experiences across platforms.

Just as every shopper is able to consume information via the Internet, they are equally as empowered to publish their own thoughts, reviews, and experiences en masse. An opinion that was once voiced to a handful of peers can now be amplified 1,000 fold by way of direct input and feedback platforms. Rapid customer service response has never been more important as a result. While companies have lost a degree of control over their digital narrative thanks to bloggers and product/service review sites, the new landscape is not without its advantages. Adding a digital footprint to brand perceptions offers a valuable opportunity to monitor and better understand perceptions of your brand, and what sites consumers are visiting online.

Today’s world is defined by options.

The market landscape has become significantly more fragmented and competitive.
Today’s world is defined by options. Consumers now have a tremendous amount of choice in what products to buy and brands to engage with in order to serve a given need. The rapid increase in number of options for shoppers to explore, coupled with more ways to access and consume products, means that consumers expect a brand experience that fits seamlessly into their lives (not vice versa). What’s more, people browsing online now have easier access to information about your competitors– even comparing their products and yours side by side. It’s important to visually communicate this aspect of a shopper journey in a way that is clear and concise, so that your internal team can understand and activate on consumers’ actual paths.

It can be difficult to capture the complexities of today’s typical path to purchase, because there’s nothing “typical” about it. Keeping to the traditional research model for path to purchase is no longer an option, because it doesn’t paint a complete picture of the varied journeys a consumer may realistically take. But abandoning the model entirely isn’t the solution, either. We believe in a differentiated philosophy based on key shifts in the landscape, integrating existing knowledge with newer techniques (like social listening) to give our clients a complete and accurate picture of the customer journey.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Top 5 Reasons Why OmniShopper is Your Key to Retail Success

With the summer holidays now behind us, are you ready to book your OmniShopper International ticket?

If you haven’t really thought about it yet, that’s ok. There’s still time for you commit for 2016. In fact, we’ve come up with a short list of why OmniShopper is YOUR can’t miss destination for retail success:

1.       Uncover the Latest Shopper Research Methodologies
Emmanuel Malard, Consumer & Market Insight Manager, Samsung Electronics details how Samsung validated the use of 360° virtual reality immersion became part of the research toolkit for their insights team, and what’s coming on the horizon.
2.       Integrate Omnichannel Retail Strategies to Connect
Kantar Retail’s Owen McCabe will provide you with an overview of the omnichannel ecosystem, and how smart brand owners are effectively connecting with their consumers by leveraging omnichannel for competitive advantage.
3.       Become a Great Marketing Leader
With the guidance of Patrick Barwise, Emeritus Professor of Management & Marketing, London Business School, you’ll learn how to maximize your business impact and long-term career success by complementing your technical marketing skills with a range of leadership skills. Plus, get an inside look at the soon to be released book, The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader.
4.       Prepare Your Organization for the Next Data Revolution
Big Data will soon be a thing of the past, at least according to Martin Lindstrom. What’s next, the seemingly insignificant consumer observations that will completely transform the way businesses are built and run, soon to be known as SMALL DATA.
5.       Embrace Disruptive Trends & Innovations
Henry Mason will show you can get ahead of your customers’ rapidly accelerating expectations by generating actionable foresight, and relying on the latest trends and innovations across the retail and media landscapes.
Download the brochure for the full programme:

Book your ticket by Friday, 23 of September and save £200. Plus, Use code OMNIINTL16BL for £100 off the current rate – Secure your spot today! Buy tickets:

We hope to see you in London!

The OmniShopper Team


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Using Design Thinking for a Family Glamping Trip

How can we make our marketing research projects even better?” is a question we often ask ourselves here at April Bell Research Group.  So, it’s awesome when you find a framework to do just that! I first learned about Design Thinking from Lisa Helminiak, founder of a human-centered design firm, Azul 7.  We met at a women-owned businesstraining event, where she turned me on to some great resources from Stanford’s Institute ofDesign: 

Since then, we have used this thinking in many of our research projects.  When I heard about Azul 7’s Design Thinking Workshop/Bootcamp, I decided to trek up to Minneapolis to attend.  I wanted to deepen my understanding and find new ways to implement it into our research practice.  What I discovered is that Design-Thinking is more than a “process”, it’s a way of life.

This mindset includes:
  • Focusing on what others need
  • Feeling free to experiment while working through a process
  • Getting really clear about what you’re trying to solve.
  • Having a “bias toward action”
  • Radial collaboration

It’s a simple process to reshape thinking. You state the challenge, and then follow 5 steps – Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test – to elevate creative thinking.

Creativity is an essential skill for leaders trying to make a difference. Yet developing the ability to think and act creatively remains a thorny challenge. While there's a hunger for skill development, elevating creative confidence doesn't happen via traditional modes of executive education.Tim Brown, IDEO’s President and CEO

Here’s how I incorporated Design Thinking as I planned my trip to the Boot Camp!

State the Challenge:  How can I take 3+ days away for training when I have so many obligations with work and family?

The Steps:

  • Empathize – immerse yourself, observe what people are doing, how they’re doing it and why. Discover other’s views.  Sidenote: this is MUCH easier to do professionally as a moderator than it is with your immediate family!!!  But here’s what I got from the “empathy gathering” stage:

o   My husband and daughter didn’t want me to drag them along on a trip where I was unavailable for most of the day.
o   They also didn’t want me to go on a trip unless it was a “real vacation.”
o   They wanted to go “camping” – I did not.
o   I didn’t want to feel guilty about going.
o   I wanted to create a great experience for everyone.
  •  Define – this is tricky because you’re still not solving – you’re just unpacking what you learned, and getting clarity on WHAT needs to be solved. “Unpack” all of your learnings, then translate these into a Point of View statement – (User)needs” (Need) “because” (Insight)

o   My definition: 
§  The Family (User) needs…
§  …to find individual activities while vacationing together (Need) because…
§  …we want to be together yet have our own idea of what “fun” looks like! (Insight)
  • Ideate – our “family” brainstorm looked a little different than the typical innovation ideation sessions we facilitate with our clients but let’s just say our little familia “tried” to build on each other’s ideas.  And we “tried” not to judge each other’s opinions (some of us were better than others but I'm not pointing any fingers!)  And, my 5 year old is DEFINITELY the most creative and best “ideator” of the family!
  • Prototype – You stop talking (and thinking) in this step - and start building.  It’s a challenge because our nature – at least mine – is to get it right, get it perfect before showing others. This step forces the reverse thinking.  To get better, you must build/create something to test SO THAT IT CAN get better for the user! 
  • Test – Then, we tested our first ever 10-day Family Glamping + Training trip!  Our user testing was “doing it.”  Would we do it differently next time?  Yes, we would tweak a few things like making sure our A/C in the camper was working properly before departing.  And allowing 2 weeks for the trip, not 10 days…but we learned a lot.  This was our “prototype”:

1.     Pull camper from Dallas to Oklahoma, spent our first night in Sequoyah State Park in Hulbert, OK
2.     Migrated to Des Moines, IA where we played with our friends, then left our daughter + camper to play longer.
3.     Husband and I drove on to Minneapolis where I attended Azul’s Design-Thinking Boot Camp and hubby happily biked in a city with some of the best biking trails in the US.  
4.     Then, we made our way back home, picking up our daughter and camper in Iowa
5.     Spent 2 more nights in Kansas before heading back to Dallas.

Here’s a visual map we made with Fotor, another fun tool we’ve added to our tool kit. That and PicMonkey are both great  at quickly helping you bring ideas to life visually for “quick DIY design needs.”

Loved the Boot Camp. And Design Thinking has not only enhanced our innovation projects but also helped us create a mindset for innovation in our boutique business and even personally!

April Bell. Owner, Researcher, Facilitator and the “force of nature” at April Bell Research Group, a full service boutique market research agency helping researchers shine.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Top 3 Trends in Mobile Surveys

By: Aaron Jue, FocusVision

Each year, we analyze the millions of surveys hosted on our online survey platform, Decipher, to get insights into respondent survey-taking behaviors and investigate the latest mobile survey trends including these three key trends market researchers need to know.

Trend #1: Online survey starts from smartphone devices continue to grow
Mobile devices represent close to 30% of all survey starts (Figure 1). The mobile growth trend in online surveys follows the overall global trend of device usage. Industry analysts forecast smartphone subscriptions from 2015 will double to 6.4 billion worldwide by 2021.[1]

As smartphones increasingly replace the PC for primary internet usage, we expect that the population of smartphone survey takers will follow the same trend.

Trend #2: Mobile friendly surveys = improved participation rates
Mobile survey participation rates have steadily improved while participation rates for desktop users have remained stable.

This reflects Decipher client projects which, over the years, have increasingly deployed mobile friendly surveys.  We’re constantly discussing best survey design practices for mobile devices and these have been tested and put to good use.  By default all surveys hosted on the Decipher platform employ a responsive survey design with options for many dynamic and mobile friendly question types (e.g. card sort,  buttons).

Researchers are adjusting to the needs of the growing usage for mobile devices, and survey designs have gotten better and smarter.

Trend #3: Mobile penetration depends on sample source
The level of mobile participation for a given survey depends on the sample characteristics. It is known, for instance that in the US, minority groups, youths, and upper income individuals show higher incidence of smartphone use.[2]

Whether a survey employs panel sample or client supplied sample (e.g. list of customers) has a tremendous impact as well.When a client-supplied list is used, more than a quarter of respondents access the survey using a smartphone; that number falls to 10% for panel respondents (Figure 2).

Panel supplied sample has always had far fewer smartphone survey takers.  We suspect that’s because this population expects to receive surveys, and will use a PC out of habit or for the better survey-user experience (i.e. larger screen size, mouse / keyboard input). But the number of mobile panel members is growing and has more than doubled since 2013.  Besides the increasing reliance on smartphone devices to access the internet,  the growing industry acceptance and deployment of smartphone friendly survey designs are undoubtedly driving this trend.

Things Market Researchers MUST Consider in 2016
As the mobile population continue to grow, it’s becoming increasingly clear that researchers must adhere to mobile friendly principles for online surveys. We can no longer simply resize surveys designed for the PC and serve them on a smartphone without any regard for the smaller screen. It leaves respondents frustrated with tiny text, input buttons, or horizontal scales partially cut off from view. A survey that is friendly and optimized across all platforms drives better data and higher respondent participation.

About Aaron Jue, FocusVision Market Research Director
With more than 10 years of full-service online survey knowledge and research, Aaron keeps FocusVision at the forefront of new market research trends and best survey design practices to maximize response rates and data quality. His role is to capture key internal business performance metrics and FV customer insights.